Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Foster's Bid Wilts in Senate Nominee Unjustly Tied to Abortion Issue, Clinton Says

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Foster's Bid Wilts in Senate Nominee Unjustly Tied to Abortion Issue, Clinton Says

Article excerpt

Dr. Henry Foster lost a crucial Senate vote in his bid to become surgeon general Wednesday - a defeat President Bill Clinton laid to an abortion "stranglehold" of the Republican Party. Clinton pledged to keep fighting before a second vote today that could be the final blow.

"This was not a vote about the right of the president to choose a surgeon general," Clinton said. "This was really a vote about every American woman's right to choose." Clinton made his comments while appearing with Foster in the Rose Garden just after the effort to break a Republican roadblock fell three votes short.

Foster, a Tennessee gynecologist-obstetrician, has said he performed 39 abortions in four decades.

"Because he cannot pass the political litmus test that has a stranglehold on the other party, they cannot even allow a simple vote," Clinton said.

The 57-43 vote to cut off debate and clear the way for a final confirmation vote was three votes short of the 60 needed. Supporters have one more chance to prevail today, but their chances appeared slim.

"I'm not through yet, and we're going to do our best to win it," Clinton said. But Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., a leading Foster booster, conceded, "It's very tough."

In three hours of contentious debate, Republicans argued that they were not just opposing abortion but felt Foster was not the right candidate for the job - especially after the tenure of former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders.

Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kan., chairwoman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee that approved the nomination 9-7, voted with Democrats Wednesday. But she still opposes Foster, calling him "the wrong person to step into this badly damaged office at this time."

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and other supporters said they had singled out five Republicans who might possibly change their votes. But they would not reveal the names. Sen. Mark Hatfield, R-Ore., was named among those, as was Sen. John Warner, R-Va.

But Warner took to the floor to say his vote would not change after his office received more than 100 calls Wednesday afternoon.

The vote Wednesday was to stop a threatened filibuster by Phil Gramm, R-Texas, who is running for the GOP presidential nomination, as is Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole. …

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